House passes 90 percent tax on AIG bonuses

With almost half of the Republican caucus crossing the aisle, supporters of the measure won easily.

Published March 19, 2009 7:00PM (EDT)

Well, House Democrats had the votes to pass a bill instituting a 90 percent tax on the bonuses paid out by AIG recently after all. It was a landslide, in fact, with 328 members (about 75 percent of the entire House) voting in favor.

87 Republicans -- a plurality of the GOP conference -- did end up opposing the bill. But 85 of their colleagues crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats. Six didn't vote.

The Democratic side of the chamber was more unified, with 243 members supporting the bill, six voting "nay" and five not voting.

The bill isn't just targeted at AIG; such a law would most likely run afoul of the Constitution's prohibition on bills of attainder. Instead, it applies to any employees making more than $250,000 a year and working at any corporation that's received at least $5 billion in bailout money.

Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have proposed a 75 percent tax on the bonuses. It remains to be seen which version will ultimately pass the full Congress.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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